Hopes for Wifi Cities Fizzling Fast

Earthlink, other providers pull out amid rising costs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2008 12:48 PM CDT
Internet users try out the wireless Internet in downtown Manhattan.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Hopes for wireless cities are flickering out one by one as Internet providers run up against mounting logistics and small profits, the New York Times reports. Ambitious plans to provide free or cheap high-speed service to poor residents of cities such as Philadelphia, Houston, and San Francisco have ground to a halt as the providers, most notably Earthlink, pull out of the projects. 

"The entire for-profit model is the reason for the collapse," a technology analyst said. Among the problems: the realization that far more routers were necessary than originally thought, a significant factor in cost. Cities are scrambling to find new business plans to lure providers, and one in Minneapolis is drawing attention: The city will ensure a minimum number of subscribers by signing up municipal workers.